Reporter tries out a protective bomb suit during joint military-RCMP explosives training

Article / November 20, 2018 / Project number: 18-0379

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By Tim Bryant, Western Sentinel

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta — Teamwork is crucial to both military and police work, including when training in explosives disposal, something that I, the author of this report, can describe first-hand.

Two members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) troop joined several members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s K Division Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) for a training session on September 19, 2018 south of Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta.

The training was part of a recently-started regimen of joint sessions between the two forces, explained RCMP Sergeant Greg Baird, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the EDU.

“This training keeps their skills up to date with any changes and situations they could face,” he said. “It also challenges their skills and each other to the best of their abilities.”

Bringing together military personnel and RCMP members also serves to build and enhance a sense of community, and allows the two forces to network.

The EOD community is a relatively small one, so it is a good idea for its members to know each other and gain some experience working together.

“It’s a chance to branch out,” said one CAF EOD troop member, who could not be named for reasons of operational security. “We welcome the opportunity to learn and see what other forces are doing.”

The training featured several pieces of RCMP technology, including two robots and two drones.

In various training scenarios, a suspicious package was discovered and officers used the robots and drones to examine, neutralize and re-examine the package to try to determine its origin and purpose. The neutralization featured the use of water and controlled destruction in different ways.

As the day progressed, the training expanded to include using a bomb suit and detonating ordnance behind a ridge.

Sgt Baird said opportunities to work with the CAF are always welcome, and he has high hopes for the future of the relationship.

“We have pretty much showcased all of our equipment and we hope to have the opportunity for the CAF EOD members to do the same for us,” he said.

On the bomb range: a reporter’s account

While I was out on the range, I was asked if I wanted to try wearing the bomb suit. Of course I said ‘yes.’ If I wasn’t going to get a Mythbusters-esque ‘boom’ out of a trip to the bomb range, I wanted to make it worth my while in other ways.

The bomb suit looks rather uncomfortable and a tad unwieldy. I can report it lives up to its appearance.

The suit is heavy, and you don’t have that much flexibility. You can still move fairly well, but don’t try running a marathon in it.

Putting it on or taking it off is certainly not a one-person job, either. And, while the weather co-operated, I would not envy anyone who needs to wear the suit for hours at a time in hot summer weather.

Perhaps the best part of the day was when the ordnance was detonated behind the ridge. Not only did I get a rather satisfying ‘bang’ out of the deal, but I got to set off the charge once.

I’d call that a good day.

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